An evaluation of ‘Reach Out Central’: An online gaming program for supporting the mental health of young people

National eTherapy Centre.Therapy Unit, Faculty of Life and Social Sciences, Swinburne University of Technology, Hawthorn 3122, Australia.
Health Education Research (Impact Factor: 1.66). 02/2010; 25(4):563-74. DOI: 10.1093/her/cyq002
Source: PubMed


The objective of this study was to conduct an evaluation of Reach Out Central (ROC), an online gaming program designed to support the mental health of people aged 16-25. The evaluation sought to determine the benefit of playing ROC on alcohol use, use of coping strategies, psychological distress, resilience and satisfaction with life. Changes in mental health literacy, mental health stigma and willingness to seek help and program satisfaction were also investigated. A single group (N = 266) quasi-experimental repeated measures (pre-, post-program, 2-month follow-up) design was employed. The results demonstrated positive improvements across all outcome measures for females; however, a non-significant worsening effect was observed for males on seeking support, avoidance and resilience. Improvements for both genders were observed on mental health literacy and help-seeking. However, literacy levels and help-seeking were significantly higher, and stigma significantly lower for females. Program satisfaction ratings were high irrespective of gender. Although some inconsistencies between genders were noted, ROC appears to enhance protective factors for the prevention or early intervention of mental health disorders. The results of this study need to be viewed with its limitations in mind, specifically, the use of an open trial methodology and the small number of male participants.

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Available from: Kerrie Shandley,
    • "Qualitative anecdotal evidence supports the idea that serious games can be useful in motivating patients for behavioral change (e.g. [7] [8] [9] [10] [11]). In contrast, quantitative evidence on games' behavioral change effects, is scarce [12- 14] relative to the number of studies performed. "

    09/2015; 2(3). DOI:10.17083/ijsg.v2i3.75
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    • "No data reported; discussion states that CBCL indicated improvement while YSR symptom scores were less conclusive Discussion states gNats Island had a positive impact on participants Shandley et al, 2010 ReachOutCentral Kessler Psychological Distress Scale (K10) K10: Report only a significant gender effect (F(1,264)=11.89, p=0.00) with females having a higher levels of distress than males. "
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    ABSTRACT: Abstract: Serious games (computerised interventions which utilise gaming for serious purposes) have been shown to support improved outcomes in several health conditions. We aimed to review evidence regarding serious games for depression. We undertook electronic searches of PsycInfo, EMBASE and Medline, using terms relevant to computer games and depression. We included fulltext articles published in English in peer-reviewed literature since 2000, where the intervention was designed to treat or prevent depression and which included pre-and post-intervention measurement of depression. Nine studies relating to a total of six interventions met inclusion criteria. Most studies were small and were carried out by the developers of the programs. All were tested with young people (ages between 9 and 25 years). Most reported promising results with some positive impact on depression although one universal program had mixed results. Serious gaming interventions show promise for depression, however evidence is currently very limited.
    Revista de Psicopatología y Psicología Clínica 01/2015; 19(3):227. DOI:10.5944/rppc.vol.19.num.3.2014.13904 · 0.23 Impact Factor
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    • "This review indicates a gap exists regarding evidence-based approaches of this kind. Recent advances in Internet-, and mobile phone-based therapies and serious gaming, have lead to new delivery approaches to the treatment of individual disorders [161] [162] [163] [164] [165] [166] and this may represent potential avenues by which to target those young people with co-occurring problems. These approaches have the potential to overcome many of the barriers to effectively treating this population, for instance, availability, cost, flexibility, privacy, anonymity, and avoidance of stigma associated with seeing a therapist [167] [168] [169]. "
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    ABSTRACT: Background:Depression and problematic substance use represent two of the major social and health problems facing young people internationally. Frequently, these conditions co-occur and this co-occurrence is associated with greater functional impact, poorer treatment outcomes, and increased costs to both society and the individual. Objective:This review aims to identify peer-reviewed published trials of interventions for co-occurring substance use and depression delivered to young people, describe these interventions, and critique the methodological quality of the studies. Method: Eleven electronic databases were searched. The reference lists of relevant review papers were searched manually for additional studies not identified by the electronic database search. Results: Initially, 1,976 studies were identified, of which 22 were classified as trial studies of youth-based treatment interventions for co-occurring substance use and depression. Ten of these studies met criteria for review. The majority (60%) utilized a pharmacotherapy component, but found it to be generally no better than placebo when both groups received adjunct counselling. Methodological quality of studies varied. Conclusions:There is a dearth of trials of interventions for co-occurring depression and substance use disorders in young people. The limited data available is promising regarding the overall effectiveness of a psychological counselling approach.Given the importance of early intervention, and the difficulties faced when engaging youth in treatment, there is a need for further focused effort amongst this group. This may require more innovative techniques in intervention design and implementation. Recent advances in Internet- and mobile phone-based therapies present apotential avenue for further research.
    Current Drug Abuse Reviews 10/2014; 7(1). DOI:10.2174/1874473707666141015220608
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